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BMC Med Res Methodol. 2008 Jul 15;8:47. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-8-47.

Reliability and validity of two frequently used self-administered physical activity questionnaires in adolescents.

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Nord-Tr√łndelag University College, Faculty of Health Science, Levanger, Norway.



To create and find accurate and reliable instruments for the measurement of physical activity has been a challenge in epidemiological studies. We investigated the reliability and validity of two different physical activity questionnaires in 71 adolescents aged 13-18 years; the WHO, Health Behaviour in Schoolchildren (HBSC) questionnaire, and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ, short version).


The questionnaires were administered twice (8-12 days apart) to measure reliability. Validity was assessed by comparing answers from the questionnaires with a cardiorespiratory fitness test (VO2peak) and seven days activity monitoring with the ActiReg, an instrument measuring physical activity level (PAL) and total energy expenditure (TEE).


Intraclass correlation coefficients for reliability for the WHO HBSC questionnaire were 0.71 for frequency and 0.73 for duration. For the frequency question, there was a significant difference between genders; 0.87 for girls and 0.59 for boys (p < 0.05). The intraclass correlation coefficients the IPAQ varied between 0.10 and 0.62 for the reliability. Spearman correlation coefficients for validity for both the WHO HBSC questionnaire and the IPAQ (recoded into low, moderate and high activity) measured against VO2peak were fair, ranging between 0.29 - 0.39. The WHO HBSC questionnaire measured against VO2peak for girls were acceptable, ranging between 0.30 - 0.55. Both questionnaires, except the walking question in IPAQ, showed a low correlation with PAL and TEE, ranging between 0.01 and 0.29.


These data indicate that the WHO HBSC questionnaire had substantial reliability and were acceptable instrument for measuring cardiorespiratory fitness, especially among girls. None of the questionnaires however seemed to be a valid instrument for measuring physical activity compared to TEE and PAL in adolescents.

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